Are Exercise Bikes Better Than Treadmills?

Exercise Bikes vs. Treadmills

There are many choices when it comes to exercise equipment. It’s hard to know what equipment you need to use to help you lose weight and get stronger, from hand weights to machines. 

Exercise bikes and treadmills are the most popular equipment choices. They each have advantages and disadvantages. Exercise bikes are best for people with joint issues, but treadmills are more effective at burning calories.

If you are trying to choose between an exercise bike and a treadmill, read on for the pros and cons of each piece of equipment.

Exercise Bikes Are Good For Joint Issues

Woman Riding on Exercise Bike

Exercise bikes are a common piece of exercise equipment at homes and in gyms. There are several different types of exercise bikes, including:

  • Upright Bike: The upright bike is the most common type of exercise bike and the one that most resembles a road bicycle. The rider sits upright with the pedals positioned under the body. This is a good choice for cardio workouts and for strengthening your core and leg muscles.
  • Recumbent Bike: With a recumbent bike, the rider sits back in a chair seat with their feet on pedals in front of them. The rider is fully supported in their seat, which reduces stress on the upper body and lower back. This is a less intense workout than the upright bike but a good choice for those with limited mobility.
  • Dual-Action Bike: The dual is an exercise bike that has handlebars that move back and forth. This gives the rider an arm workout as well as a lower-body workout. Both upright and recumbent bicycles can be dual-action.
  • Spin Bike: Spin bikes are becoming increasingly popular as home workouts. They look like upright bikes but have a flywheel. This large wheel is in the front of the bike. It provides resistance and momentum to simulate riding outdoors. This flywheel adds an intensity to the workout that other exercise bikes don’t have.

Choosing an exercise bike depends on what kind of workout you are looking for and your fitness level and mobility.

There are Many Benefits to Exercise Bikes

Fit Woman using Exercise Bike

There are many benefits to using an exercise bike. It is an effective way to build strength and endurance without too much risk of injury. If you are thinking about using an exercise bike in your fitness routine, there are additional benefits you can also consider.

Cardio Fitness

Riding on an exercise bike is a cardiovascular workout, and you will improve your heart and lung function while building endurance. Cardio workouts also improve the flow of blood and oxygen through your body, improving other body functions such as:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Stronger Immune system
  • Boosts energy
  • Helps with better sleep

Cardio workouts also burn calories and help with weight loss.

Bikes Strengthen the Lower Body

No matter which exercise bike you use, you will strengthen the muscles in your lower body. Your muscle and ligament flexibility will improve, reducing the risk of injury. The higher the resistance you use, the more of a workout your muscles will get.

If you feel like you need to strengthen your lower body, the exercise bike is a way to target several muscle groups at once.

They are Low Impact

As stated earlier, exercise bikes are a good choice for people with mobility or joint issues. The pedaling motion is a smooth motion that strengthens bones and muscles without putting too much stress on joints. Unlike jumping or running, your feet don’t leave the pedals, so there is less impact on your ankles, knees, and hips.

Watch out for saddle sores, though. As anyone who has ever ridden a bike knows, after time, the bike seat can get very uncomfortable, and there can be chafing. Wear padded clothing and make sure that your bike seat is at the right height to minimize soreness.

Bikes are Not as Effective for Weight Loss

Young Woman Doing Indoor Cycling

Exercise bikes have many benefits, but they are not the perfect workout machine. There are some downsides that you should consider when choosing whether to use one.

Bikes Don’t Burn As Many Calories as Treadmills

While indoor cycling is a great cardiovascular workout that helps improve fitness and burns calories, it is not as effective for weight loss as other workout equipment, like treadmills. The options of adding incline and upping the speed on a treadmill can burn as many as 700 calories an hour. On an exercise bike, you are likely to burn 400 calories at most. 

Indoor Cycling Can Be Monotonous

One reason so many people like cycling outdoors is that they are able to be in nature. Cyclists can travel to places and stop for coffee if they want. On an indoor bike, this isn’t possible, and as a result, it can get boring. The good thing about being indoors is that you can read a book or watch TV to break up the boredom and make the workout go faster.

Treadmills are Great for Total Body Exercise

Man Running on Treadmill

Treadmills are popular workout equipment. They are versatile and allow runners to get a good workout without having to run outside. If you plan your workout correctly, you can burn a lot of calories and see real results from your workout.

The Benefits are Obvious

Many fitness enthusiasts rate treadmills as the best exercise equipment, and it is easy to see why. From calorie burning to strength building, treadmills are very effective.

Burn Lots of Calories on a Treadmill

As we’ve seen, you can burn many more calories on a treadmill than on an exercise bike. This is because when you are running, you have to support your own weight. When you are on an exercise bike, you are sitting. Having that extra weight makes your heart work harder, and your body needs more energy to propel itself.

Running also works out your arms, which most exercise bikes do not.

This full-body workout typically burns 50% more calories an hour than an exercise bike does.

Treadmills have Speed and Incline Variations

Treadmills have many features built into them, including the ability to increase the incline and the speed. Treadmill runners can use programs to create interval programs to have a more intense workout. You can customize your workout to fit your individual fitness needs with a treadmill.

Strengthen Your Muscles and Improve Bone Density

Warming Up On Treadmill

Just as it helps burn calories, supporting your own weight while running helps improve bone density and strengthens muscles. The running motion causes new bone tissue to form. When you run, the muscles contract back and forth, enhancing blood flow that helps your muscles and bones grow stronger.

Health and Safety Can Be an Issue

Just as with any exercise equipment, there are cons to using a treadmill. Be aware of the problems you may encounter to avoid injury.

Treadmills are Higher Impact Than Bikes

While running on a treadmill, with its cushioned surface, is better for the joints than running on pavement, it is still a high impact exercise. When your feet hit the ground, there is a jarring impact on the 

  • Ankles
  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Back

If you have preexisting joint issues, carefully think if running is the best choice for you. Although it is a very effective method you can use to lose weight and increase strength, you don’t want to exacerbate any problems you have.

There is an Increased Risk of Falling

Treadmills work like a conveyer belt. The belt keeps moving, whether or not you are running. This can be a safety issue if you lose your balance or stumble. The risk for falling is a lot greater on a treadmill than outdoors because of the belt’s constant movement. Always use the safety clip that turns the treadmill off if you fall.

Which Equipment is Better?

You can get an effective workout from either an exercise bike or a treadmill, but they each have their advantages. If you are injury-prone, the exercise bike is the best choice as it is low impact, you get the cardio workout without hurting your joints.

If you want the most effective calorie burner, the treadmill is the machine for you. Just remember to take it easy and be safe.


Team HTF

We are the team at High Tech Fitness and have a love for educating and sharing our insights on all things tech and fitness with you.

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